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Synth pop and garlic mingle at Feast in the East 21

Posted by Jesse Ship / January 7, 2013

feast in the east torontoAs the name implies, Feast In The East is a monthly event that brings together a mix of indie bands and pairs them with a full meal (or snack, depending on your appetite). Every month features new foods, bands, and curated installations. With that in mind, I entered the mixed-use office building that contains PolyHaus in Dundas and Carlaw warehouse land, and was greeted with the gusting scent of of herbs, garlic and spices.

feast in the east torontoAs chef Dan Bedard (former production and flavour wizard at Greg's Ice Cream who is currently in culinary school) explained, he wanted to find a middle ground that would accomodate dietary restrictions, so a French-inspired vegan platter of vichyssoise (that's leek and potato soup to ceux qui ne parlent pas fran├žais), red bean dip, a family olive tapenade recipe, and a Moroccan carrot salad were on the menu.

feast in the east torontoThe medley successfully highlighted a hearty range of striking colours, flavours and textures for a frosty winter night. A mix of 20-something OCAD girls and older, slightly nerdy audiophile dudes sat around under streamers made from cut-up flags (created by Adrian Dilena) eating off their plates, fetched from a soup kitchen-style window.

feast in the east torontoThe sounds of the night were as varied and textured as the menu, but still within a consistent theme of lo-fi synth pop, enabled by a sound system made up of a garage sale's worth of '70s bass amp cabinets that wheezed under the pressure of modern electro outfits. Miss Elizabeth, a two-man, keyboard-based synth pop band (named after a celebrity WWF wrestling manager) squared off on stage facing each other like dueling battle ships while fans swayed to harmonizing church beats. One even sketched their performance on her pad.

feast in the east torontoDap's Records Beta Frontiers, also a two man group, left the crowd awe-inspired and mouthing, "what the hell are they doing up there?" as they cranked out spectral synth loops and airy vocals off a laptop and Ableton, accompanied by their own live visual remixes. The dj/vj duo is rare in Toronto, but has been all the rage in Asia for a while now.

The main draw of the night for me was to check out Toronto/Berlin one man show Digits, aka Alt Altmann (formerly of The Ghost Is Dancing), who has been soaking up blog hype for his "Love Is Only Affection" music video shot by Toronto's waterfront (and strictly speaking, NSFW).

feast in the east torontoYou wouldn't expect such a low, dusky force to emit from his mad scientist exterior. Lanky, and dressed in a classic '80s striped polo, wire-rimmed glasses and sporting a slightly asymmetrical bowl cut, he owned the stage like an ostracized math geek who's taken control of his high school prom. While Toronto may be losing Diamond Rings to LA, we (and Berlin) still have Digits. For now, at least.

Closing down the night were another soon-to-be-buzz band, Yacht Club, lead by Fucked Up's Ben Cook. A four-piece band bringing feel good sing-along anthems that might as well have been written in the '80s. Think Cyndi Lauper meets Genesis guitar licks and melodies.

Heavy on crowd interaction, Ben tossed glow stick bracelets into the crowd, borrowed fedoras, and plunged the mike deep into the mouth of a waiting sax for the song "His Eyes." No '80s band would be complete without at least one sax-based song. And I guess being so entrenched in the industry has given the band insight and certain liberties, as they currently have two singles out on two separate labels; "Flash" on Pretty Pretty Records, and "Tropicana" on Burger Records.

feast in the east torontoAll the bands that played certainly have their own sort of hype going for them. It's great to see that this kind of community exists in Toronto, where dinner and a show take a completely different kind of meaning.

Photos by Kat Rizza



mar / January 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm
great food great bands great vibe. running out of booze five minutes before headliner goes on huge fail. I get that they got more people than expected but beer doesnt really go bad. better too have too much than not enough. I'm not someone who can't have a good time with out a beer but when you've been drinking and all drinks are gone just as the headliner is about to go on it is a bit of a buzzkill.
Lyndsay M / January 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm
In the audience pics, everyone looks so excited.
mike replying to a comment from Lyndsay M / January 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm
for what its worth, the bands look equally excited
Slavaq / January 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Great photos.. hoping to check out one of these events when in Toronto.
Neil / January 7, 2013 at 01:08 pm
Sounds like a cool event. Unfortunately the folks standing in front of the stage look like they should have had a side of Paxil with their soup.
Tommy / January 7, 2013 at 06:55 pm
I pretty sure BlogTO has been guilty of this before, but I think your usage of the term 'audiophile' is incorrect...
gabe replying to a comment from Tommy / January 8, 2013 at 11:01 pm
Why what term should they be using Audio Pife Dawg - I left my wallet in El Segundo!!!
Joshie5 replying to a comment from Tommy / January 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm
I love garlic fest! I used to go to Garlic Fest back when it was at the Olive Garden. The bread sticks and unlimited salad were the best!
Joshie5 replying to a comment from Joshie5 / January 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm
They used to have this vinegary iceberg salad with carrots cabbage and whole full picked hot peppers, just like East Side Mario's used to have the same salad....
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